In most homes, there’s one area where the whole family likes to gather, the one area where your guests want to hang out during a party, and the one area where there’s life, food, and happiness. For most of us, that place is our kitchen. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. If this describes your family kitchen, then it’s the heart of your house. Unfortunately for most, this is probably the one area of the home that is the most cluttered, disorganized, and neglected.
Whether your kitchen is big or small, it needs function, form, a logical flow, counter space, and last but definitely not least, organization. Here are just a few helpful hints to guide you in the right direction.
Purge, Purge, Purge
We all have too much! Let’s just admit it so we can actually do something about it. We have 8 different types of canned beans, three containers of lemon pepper, 47 types of Ziplock bags, a drawer full of condiments and chopsticks, and a few of those “as seen on TV” gadgets we thought we couldn’t live without. If this is not you, then congratulations! You don’t need to read any further but for the rest of us, we must get to work.
The Dreaded Tupperware Cabinet
If we don’t have 15,000 pieces of Tupperware floating in every drawer and cabinet in our kitchen, are we really living life to the fullest? But really, we don’t need every single size & shape that exists. If they’re stained, broken, missing a lid, why are we keeping them? So, go ahead and purge away and then organize what you really need to keep.
Here’s how to do it: Pull every single container you have out of your cabinets (and by cabinets, I mean every and any cabinet or closet or drawer in your home and not just your kitchen). Once you have it in a pile, separate by size and use. After you’ve completed this process, you are ready to purge. Be serious about your purge. Do you have the room or the need to keep all of them? When you are finally ready to part ways with some of them and they happen to still be in good shape, then please donate instead of trashing.
If you have a small kitchen, counters are a much needed and valued real estate. Try to keep them clear by using hooks to hang a variety of kitchen necessities (cooking utensils, the paper towel holder, etc.). You can even use hooks on the inside of your cabinets to maximize space. Keep in mind, just because you have it, it doesn’t mean it needs to be displayed on your counters. Keeping most things tucked away makes for a cleaner, more organized-looking kitchen.
Go through all of your food items and get rid of anything that’s expired, stale, or is no longer needed. If you want to get creative, buy air-tight matching canisters and bottles and fill them with everyday necessities like pasta, sugar, and cereal. Taking things out of their packaging and putting them in jars and baskets gives your pantry a clean and organized look. It also creates more room and makes it easier to find things. And when you can easily find what you need, then making a list before a grocery store trip is easier and keeps you from purchasing duplicates.
If your pantry is on the small side, use the pantry door to hang an over-the-door-organizer or you can go the inexpensive route and use a shoe organizer. Again, hooks are perfect for hanging items such as measuring cups and spoons. In my pantry, I have a magazine holder screwed-in to the wall for foil & saran wrap. There are tons of other clever ideas out there that could be helpful in creating space. You just need to look for them in stores or on-line.
If you don’t have a pantry, use a turntable (rotating tray) inside a cabinet for spices and sauces. A can rack is inexpensive and can give you that extra usable vertical space in a cabinet for your canned goods. Labeled baskets and bins also work in cabinets and they can hide mismatched food items. Make a basket for all the different pastas or one for all your coffee and tea items.
Recently, I re-worked a junk drawer for a client. She had an assortment of plastic containers she needed to purge, so instead I used a few of them to create separate spaces for things like pushpins, pens, rubber bands, bag clips, etc. Her junk drawer is no longer a scary mix of “stuff” scattered throughout the drawer, and she can now easily find what she’s looking for. Again, no need to spend extra money for fancy drawer dividers. Use what you already have.
Here’s how to do it: Pull everything out of the drawer, sort it, get rid of what you no longer need, create separate spaces with either drawer dividers or old containers and then start putting everything back.
Dishes & Utensils
If you can afford to part ways with mismatched items, then great. If not, then organizing them and having them close to the stove is best. You know your kitchen, so changing the layout of your kitchen to where it’s user-friendly is the main goal. Utensil trays in drawers & dish racks in upper cabinets are an affordable way to create an organized space. Use the same techniques as before to create order in these areas.
If you’re into caffeine like I am and you happen to have extra room, choose a counter and set up a cozy coffee/tea bar. Make sure you include everything you need to make a nice cup of something delicious all within reach. Access and function are key so use the space above and below the counter if you need more room.
I Don’t Want to Spend Tons of Money, Now What?
If you want and can afford getting organized on a Container Store budget, then do it! They have some amazing organizational items that can beautifully transform your kitchen. However, if you’re on a smaller budget, then IKEA, the Dollar Tree, Target, Walmart, or any other similar store in your area will have all kinds of beautiful and affordable items to help you get organized. If you don’t have any of these stores near you, then consider ordering online. Again, it’s not about how much money you spend, it’s about what you do with what you can afford or even with what you already own.
Extra Tip #1
One of the mistakes made in the kitchen is how herbs and spices are stored. They shouldn’t be kept near a stove, in direct sunlight, in the fridge, or even the freezer. Here’s why - the flavor in seasoning comes from its oils and heat will dry out these oils. Also, storing them in the fridge or the freezer, will drastically change its temperature which in turn will cause condensation which will then lead to mold. So, the best thing to do is to keep your herbs and spices in an airtight container in a cool, dry place and discard when old.
Extra Tip #2
When storing wine glasses, alternate tops and bottoms. This way, you’ll be able to store more in an already tight cabinet.
Hope these tips and ideas were helpful to you and will let you create an efficient and decluttered kitchen. Now, go forth and organize!
I’m a professional organizer in Katy, TX. I’ve decluttered spaces for as long as I can remember. It comes naturally to me just like drawing, baking, or carpentry comes naturally to someone else. We’re all good at something, right?
I’ve never done a blog before so hopefully I won’t bore you and you’ll use this information to start your journey to getting organized.
It is a known fact that if we’re not organized, we’re more stressed, we waste time looking for stuff, and then we feel frustrated. Maybe you’re looking for your keys, scissors, last month’s electric bill, or maybe you’re just tired of not being able to park your car in your garage during winter. Whatever it may be, that few minutes of stress can lead to anger, feelings of hopelessness, making you late for work or school, and eventually it could lead to health problems. Don’t we need to avoid stress in our lives? Yes, we do!
Let’s Get Organized
Organization is when you have a system in place where there’s a spot for all things in your home or office. Once you have this system, your space can still get messy, but it’ll take little or no time to put things back in their designated spots. As you keep refining your system, it will take less and less time to put everything back.
Now, if a system works for me, it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. This is the reason I get to know my clients and what it is they’re trying to accomplish. Sometimes, they just want to get rid of things they’ve held on to for years and sometimes they want to organize and put a system in place. As I work with my clients, we use all kinds of organizational tools we can get our hands on. Shoe boxes, old Tupperware, leftover bins from another project, etc. Not everyone can afford cute little baskets, bins, and shelves. The point is not always to have a perfect look. Don’t get me wrong, the pretty baskets are awesome but getting organized is much more important than the matching baskets.
1. Pick A Spot, Any Spot
The first thing you need to think about is which space in your home or office do you want to start with. If your kitchen and pantry is where you spend most of your time, then that could be a good place to start. Always start with a small easy space. Small victories and accomplishments are what we’re after. As you get more comfortable organizing, you can move on to a bigger space. One thing to remember throughout this process is to declutter and organize, not just organize the clutter.
As the saying goes, everything is bigger in Texas. Since I’m a Texas resident, I know this all too well. Our homes and apartments are bigger but just because we have the space, it doesn’t mean we need to fill it. It’s okay to have an extra empty drawer or an empty kitchen cabinet. Really, it is!
2. Keep, Donate, Recycle, Trash
Each time you pick up an item, think about when the last time was you used it/wore it, does it still work, could I use this space for something else, etc. We all have emotional attachments to our “stuff”, but if it’s not a family heirloom and you didn’t even know you had some plastic ornament that came hanging on a gift box, then it’s a safe bet you don’t need it.
As you start to trash, recycle, and donate your items you no longer have a need for, it’ll get easier and easier. Two things to remember:
1. Keep the “needs”, not the “wants”.
2. If you feel bad about donating something you paid money for, think of it this way: the money is already spent. Unless it’s something valuable, you can’t get that money back. Let it go!
3. Everything in its Place
Create a space for all the “stuff” you decided to keep. If it belongs in the garage, take it there. If you need to take the holiday decorations to the attic, do it. If you need to get a basket for all your mail, get one. Basically, follow through!
4. Maintain It
Finally, as the saying goes “don’t put it down, put it away”. For example, as soon as you check your mail, toss the junk mail into the recycle bin, open the most important mail, and the rest can go into a basket to be looked through at a later time.
And another good tip to remember is when something comes into the house, then something has to leave the house.
I Lack Time, Patience, & Expertise
You just can't get around to doing the work yourself? Not a problem, call a professional! They look at a cluttered space, see its potential, and work their magic!